Bev's adventures in ICT

Posts tagged ‘2DIY’

Are you an Angry Bird (addict)?

So…here goes with my second post of the day – I must be mad. I did, however, promise a few people I would share a few of my bonkers ideas for using Angry Birds as a basis for learning in the classroom. I’m sure many of you have some ideas of your own to go with this topic and I have a few friends who have already been using Angry Birds activities as a way of engaging pupils in the classroom. Now not all of these ideas are ICT based but I promised I would share them so…here we go…

First the mad part. I was sitting on the train the other day with my ipad and I saw a mum bring out some home made toys for her little one. Simple felt balls, about 6 cms across, (created as shown above) with little eyes and extras on. I thought how that would make a lovely idea for a school fete or similar and made a note of it.  Then she brought out a blue one that looked just like an Angry Bird – my mind went into overdrive. My initial idea was to get pupils to create them (or, possibly a friendly adult) and stuff them with a set weight of kapok so they could be used in maths for weighing/comparing/measuring. Maybe sort them so that the black one weighs twice as much as the red one which weights twice as much as the blue ones (if you know what I mean). After this, mind still in overdrive mode, I thought about creating a separate set of blue ones which had three mini blue ones inside – for times tables work or counting (but  I realise this might be pushing things a little too far…). Of course, if money is no object, you could always purchase a complete set of Angry Birds plush toys but I doubt many school budgets would stretch to them!

Let’s move onto my next batch of mad ideas then. After maths I moved onto science. How about using the little blighters you’ve just made for maths in a lesson on forces, complete with giant catapult. Too dangerous? Well it’s just an idea. Coming back down to earth with a bump (!!!! – sorry, couldn’t resist) why not use autoshapes, or another shape drawing program, to create your own Angry Birds? They could be as simple or complicated as you like. The one above is fairly straightforward – I bet the pupils could come up with something better. Another ICT idea I came up with involved the use of 2DIY (or maybe even 2DIY 3D if you have access to Purple Mash): creating games based on the Angry Birds story and characters. Maybe a journey game where the birds have to sneak past the pigs. Or a collection game for finding golden eggs. Again – the children are bound to come up with much better ideas.

And so to my final few ideas for today (and, I’m warning you, I have loads more): let’s link to literacy. If there are pupils who are really familiar with the game they could hone their instruction writing skills by creating walkthroughs for other children to follow. I think this would be a lovely exercise that could involve some really obvious peer assessment. I also think that the initial introduction to the game would make an interesting story starter and, if you want to get really into it, why not get pupils to storyboard and create their own game trailers, similar to the one seen here? I bet they come up with some corkers!

Extend and Stretch

You all know I’m passionate about inclusion and that means including pupils who are more able in certain areas. It’s something that we all need to be aware of in the classroom as such pupils need to be challenged  there’s nothing worse than being bored. But how to do it? Where do you start? I have a number of things I like to use; some free, some not, but the trick is to keep them interested. Here are a few ideas that you might be able to use in your classroom.

  • The  Challenge Box…: I have two special boxes in my room. They are undeniably spangley and a little OTT. They are called challenge boxes: one small (for Foundation Phase challenges) and one large (for KS2). Inside there are a range of colour-coded cards (different colours for different skill levels) that have ‘one off’ challenges on them. I also have a couple of additional cards hanging up in poly-pockets, for quick challenges. Anyway, if a child finds a task too easy or finishes it quickly I always have a few meaningful extensions planned. If there is still time in the lesson and they have completed all tasks I will direct them to take a card of whatever colour from the box. The challenges will always relate to skills we have covered before – they are just independent tasks to get them thinking. For example…


  • It’s a mystery: Regularly, particularly if there is something happening in the world that I think needs investigating (like the World Cup, World Book Day etc), I will come up with a set of mystery challenges (usually 5 or 6) which I place in sealed envelopes. In each set there’s usually a challenge linked to Science, Geography, History, Literacy, Mathematics and local (i.e. Welsh or British) interest. There are some examples of these challenges here and one of the important things I feel is that I am sourcing a number of the resource – this cuts down on the children wasting time looking for relevant stuff. These sessions challenge all pupils and sometimes work better when pupils are split into pairs or small groups but that’s up to you.
  • Show them something cool: with younger pupils who are more able it’s nice sometimes to show them something extra a program can do and let them share it with their classmates (or other teachers) during a plenary session or back in class. It’s nice to feel special and kids love that you’re sharing a piece of added information just with them 🙂
  • Give them choices: let the pupils choose the best way to complete their task. I love planning activities for pupils as young as Year 1 where they can select what they want to use. In a recent session (recording factual information about the Antarctic gathered by using Zoom School) Y2 pupils chose to record their work using either 2Publish+, 2CASS or 2Publish Extra (via PurpleMash). They also chose their own template and the way they presented work, leading to work that ranged from fact sheets to reference books while all covering the same skills ( importing, copying, pasting, etc.) and the same topic. This also works with older children: asking them to make a multimedia presentation might lead to a selection of videos and animations fitting in alongside more traditional Powerpoints or items made using web based tools like Animoto or Prezi.
  • Use things that inspire and engage: if you can make room for a little gaming or game creation: it might take your lesson in unusual directions. I’ve recently brought in my ipad and shown pupils some of the great apps available – many of which could be used in the classroom. They are totally in love with it!  Bringing  in a console or something hand held (like a Nintendo DS) can have unexpected results – it just depends how you use it. Check out ideas from fantastic people like Tim Rylands and get technology working for you, and the pupils, in your classroom. On the flip side get pupils to create their own games or quizzes to challenge each other and link to topics or learning intentions. I’ve mentioned 2DIY recently (which I’ve just used with more able, younger pupils to create quizzes linked to their topic) but there are other things out there, includingScratch, which are equally useful especially with older pupils.
  • Buddy pupils up! Use your more able pupils to assist the ones that need a little extra support – not intrusively, just as a someone to encourage or chivvy them along. I also like using older pupils along side younger ones (in a sort of Yoda style mentor role). again this isn’t intrusive, just supportive, and the pupils really seem to get something out of it.

So there you go. Not rocket science but a few ideas to than can be used to extend and stretch your pupils. I’m sure you can think of loads I’ve missed but I’ll leave you to fill in the gaps. If you’re looking for a place to start (to get more ideas – technology wise) then this might be worth a look.

Get your game face on!

I remember when playing a game involved some sort of foldable board or some odd bits of plastic that somehow linked together (or, in the care of Game of Life, both!!!). But times have changed and electronic games are slowly replacing the cherished games of my childhood, like Kerplunk and, my all time favourite, Cluedo. I, for one, am quite happy with this idea. Families used to gather around and play Monopoly (at least they did in the adverts) – they now gather around the Wii, or some other social gaming platform, and can enjoy themselves playing all sorts of games – and that’s a good thing! Games also have a place in the classroom: they can motivate learners in all sorts of ways and inspire and enhance a range of classroom projects. There’s been plenty written and blogged about this already, especially by Games supremo Dawn Hallybone and the Redbridge Games Network and I have nothing more to add to their comprehensive advise. But I am going to talk about how creating games to support learning can engage pupils!

Now there are a few different things pupils can use to create games and activities for their own use but many are really only suitable for older (Ks2 and up) pupils. I want younger pupils, and those with SEN, to also have an opportunity to develop their skills in this area so I’m going to focus on 2DIY, and on one activity that I think is particularly suited to younger pupils. I’ve spoken before about using 2DIY in the classroom, and it’s a great piece of software to have available. What could be better than getting a child to create a game that links to their current targets so that they could use it to help them reach their goal? Or getting pupils to create games that can be used in class and assessed by their peers? It’s another great way to motivate and engage learners.

I love using 2DIY with younger pupils, especially as it gives them an opportunity to be creative and to think about their own learning. The pairs game may, at first, appear to be a simple idea but there are certain things you can do to tweak it ever so slightly and make it much more than the sum of its parts. The videos included to support you are fabulous and not only act as a way in for more visual learners (I often see pupils checking out the videos for tips) but they only give a snapshot of what can be achieved. Here are some ideas that will make a simple pairs game look really beautiful and well presented (in addition to being useful and engaging). Here are some tips…

  1. Use the text tool: as seen in the image above, the use of the text tool can make children’s games look really professional and attractive. It also has the additional benefit of making things very clear and easy to read. 
  2. Use the clip art included: some things look beautiful when hand drawn but certain things need to be accurately displayed and using the included clip art (or your own) is great for this.
  3. Show pupils how to customise their palette by double clicking on individual colours in the toolbar: matching colours are easier on the eye and appealing to look at. This is also good when you might be creating games for pupils with dyslexia or dyscalculia  – make the palette match their reading overlay!
  4. Colour code your activity: by making sure each pair has it’s own clear colour scheme you can give very young pupils an extra prompt towards finding the matching pair. And, finally…
  5. Get pupils to use the magnifier when hand drawing pictures and remind them that they can alter the pencil size. This is also where you can remind them  about using their copying and pasting skills so they don’t have to attempt to draw the same thing twice.

There is, of course, so much more you can do with this fantastic program across a whole range of ages. But I haven’t come across a child yet who hasn’t enjoyed creating this simple sort of activity for themselves or younger pupils. If you haven’t tried it you really should…


There’s always something…

Is it just me or does there seem to be something different on every week between the end of October and the beginning of January? It’s a non stop merry go round of events and activities that any school worth it’s salt should be acknowledging or celebrating. No wonder we’re all ready for a holiday come December! This week has been Anti Bullying Week and I’m sure many of us have spent at least a little time discussing and working on ideas linked to this for the last few days. Tomorrow it’s time for the annual fun, charity and madness that is Children in Need and many of us (including me) will be dressing up and being a little bit silly for at least part of the day (and why not? – it is a great cause). This also means you might be looking for some fun activities linked to Pudsey Bear so here are a few ideas.

Pictures of Pudsey are always popular but the picture above twists this idea. It’s a picture of Pudsey made out of spots! Especially good for this year as the theme for the day is ‘Show your spots’. It was created using the pointillism setting on 2Paint a Picture (although you could use any art program that allowed you to draw big circles). The background was filled with large spots of darker colour (absolutely no yellow) and Pudsey was made from layers of smaller spots. The overall effect makes Pudsey look lovely and fluffy as putting the spots close together gives the image some texture.

You could also use 2DIY to create some Pudsey themed games. Younger pupils could use the program to create simple puzzles and activities while older pupils might enjoy creating some more complex games and activities: possible a Pudsey catching spots game or a platform game that involves overcoming obstacles to find spots (or possibly donations of money) – I’m pretty sure the children can come up with some even more fabulous ideas.

If you don’t have access to some of the great software from 2Simple I’ve mentioned here there’s still loads you can do. The picture below uses autoshapes to create an image of Pudsey. This has been done in PowerPoint but could just as easily be completed in Publisher or even Word. For added fun why not fill the shapes with textures instead of plain colours as seen here.


Of course some of you might like to encourage pupils to create items that raise a bit of money for the cause and there are plenty of computer based ideas that you could call upon. Things like bookmarks and badges or stickers are relatively easy to make using any desktop publishing program and a bit of imagination while the more creative might like to make Pudsey masks using 2Design and Make via 2Simple’s  PurpleMash or some Pudsey wrapping paper/paper bags using the pattern tool on 2Paint a picture. But whatever you choose I hope you have fun 🙂

We’ll keep a welcome in the hillside…

I am just about fully recovered from the first ever TeachMeet Pembs, an event I organised which took place on Tuesday just gone. I can’t remember much of it  , I don’t know how I managed it but, encouraged by a whole gang of Twitter bods, I went with it and the results are available for you to view via Ian Addison’s blog. A few people have already blogged about the event from a spectators point of view so I want to reflect on the actual organisation of it.

It all started as a bit of a joke. I am located on the tip of West Wales, as close to Ireland as I am to England. Loads of great TeachMeets were going on in England and Scotland but they were all miles away and it was frustrating that I could only join in, usually, via FlashMeeting or by watching the live feed and commenting on Twitter. Then I got the chance to go to TeachMeet BETT 2010 and take part in TeachMeet Takeover and immediately I was hooked. Ideas. both big and small, were shared freely and the atmosphere was very supportive and relaxed. I left BETT wanting to repeat the experience as often as possible but still there were no TeachMeets happening in Wales so it was back to the Flashmeetings for me. Then, on afternoon, I ended up in front of two computers trying to watch and follow two very different TeachMeet events: TeachMeet Hants and the BMobLe Conference and later that night, via Twitter, I bemoaned the lack of TeachMeets happening in Wales. I thought that would be it.

I was, of course, quite wrong. When people worked out where I lived it was suggested that an informal ‘holiday style’ Teach Meet could be organised on my doorstep during the summer holidays, thus giving rise to the event’s hashtag name – TMBev. There was talk of camping, guitars, pubs and it carried on in that jokey way for a little while until…someone said they would be prepared to actually come. Okay, I thought, I’d better get organising!! Luckily there was a lot of help out there, particularly from the aforementioned (and totally wonderful) Ian Addison who has a great ‘How to organise a TeachMeet’ guide available (I’m sure he’ll share if you ask nicely 🙂 )

I could not have sorted things for this event without help from a number of key people so here goes with the list! Firstly the people who started the joke in the first place (you know who you are but I’m naming and shaming anyway): Bill Lord, James Langley, Kevin McLaughlin and Dughall McCormick and those who slowly convinced me it would be a good idea: Dawn Hallybone, Anthony Evans, Chris Ratcliffe and Ian Addison. All of these people made me think that the event would be a bit like Field of Dreams…’if you build it, they will come’ which wasn’t totally the case but it gave me the push I needed to get things moving in the right direction. Then there was the support of my Head Teacher, who allowed me to travel up to Blackpool for their TeachMeet and see how it was done, and from my local ICT advisory teacher, Duncan Whitehurst who helped with the behind the scenes technical stuff and also came along to present! I also need to mention our fabulous sponsors, some of whom just picked up the tweets and offered support: take a bow 2Simple Software, Scholastic, Maxi Map (from Llanelli – our first local sponsor), Rising Stars, BrainPOP UK and Primary Pad,  and Welsh based ones that I emailed directly: Daydream Education and Gomer Books. Without the support of any of these people there just wouldn’t have been a TeachMeet in Pembrokshire so thanks for helping it happen.

Of course we wouldn’t have had a Teachmeet at all if there hadn’t been presenters and an audience ,and you can see most of them on the little video above.  I was amazed at how far some people were prepared to travel to take part, or even just observe, and I truly appreciate their attendance and participation. Some people even went above and beyond the call of duty just to be there and join in! Mary Farmer endured a few days of sleeping in my shed to attend before heading off on her holiday break. Simon Haughton, Ian Addison, Colin Hill and Charlie Deane somehow crammed attending, presenting and assisting with the event into an already tight schedule of meetings, holidays and other stuff – words fail me. With true dedication to the cause both Mandy Barrow and Jo Liversidge plumped for the full on holiday experience, combining TeachMeet with the glory of Pembrokeshire. And I don’t want to forget the Welsh teachers who came, none of whom had ever been to a TeachMeet and two of whom, Sheila Furniss and Dave Stacey were brave enough to give presentations!

So that’s about it! TeachMeet Pembs was certainly an experience to remember and, hopefully, I’ll get round to organising another TeachMeet in the future and another batch of interested people will come along. I’ve already included links to some blog posts that talk about the presentations and ideas that we shared so I hope you enjoy checking them out. You can also check out an archive of Top Tweets (thanks again Ian) connected with the event I’ve just got a few things left to say and then I promise I will stop. Firstly, Ian Addison is like a one man TeachMeet machine and his assistance and commitment were invaluable on the day. Next time I see him I’m going to give him a big sticker and remember to say well done! Secondly, I have a truly fantastic technician called John who came in for the whole day and sorted out all the little things that needed to be done. Someone even asked if I could hire him out – he’s that good!! You definitely need people around who are technically savvy if you’re thinking of organising a TeachMeet of your own and I know am fortunate to have him working alongside me. But finally I just have to tell you that the support from my family has been second to none and there is no way the event would have taken place without them coming along for the ride. My husband got up from a 12 hour night shift after only a few hours sleep to help pack goody bags and rearrange furniture and my youngest two children have been very patient; sorting out lots of household chores while I’ve been ‘otherwise engaged’ and assisting to set up the day. And, just when I thought my family couldn’t possibly do anything extra to help my slightly unusual father (a dj at Swansea Sound) got the local news team to ring up and chat to me about it on air for the morning show!! They just gave it their total backing and I just couldn’t have done it without them 🙂

Animal Magic

There are some topics that just always crop up in one way or another and animal topics always seem to be popular. It’s a wonderful area of discovery  as there are so many things you can link in – jungle, minibeasts, woodland creatures, polar animals, dinosaurs…the list goes on. Luckily there are a huge number of free resources on the web to help support this topic – here’s a few you might find useful.

it’s worth investigating the fantastic Be Your Wild Self website . The website allows pupils to create and image of themselves and then add animal features. A pair of wings. a lion’s mane…there are a huge number of choices and you can even add a background to. When you’ve finished your creature the website provides a print out which gives your creature a name (made up of bits of all the chosen animals – see above) and the printout will also provide you with facts about each of the animals you’ve chosen. You could use this in  conjunction with work on ‘The Gruffalo’ –  simply get pupils creating their own monsters and printing them off for display. The website could be equally successfully with older pupils. Try linking it to ‘Not Now, Bernard’: pupils can capture screen shots of  finished creatures, paste them into a PowerPoint template and use descriptive language to describe them. I’m sure you can think of more uses for this amazing resource so go and check it out!

You’ll also find a number of ideas linked to animal topics on the wonderful free tes iboard site. In fact there are all sorts of animal ideas (minibeasts, farm animals etc.) that are sorted into subject categories (and colour coded suggested target age groups). Covering angles and distance? Also in the middle of an animal topic? The tes iboard has an activity for that (Catching Flies Chameleon). Covering Insects in class? Like to sort some using a branching database? Again tes iboard has an activity for that. In fact it’s a seemingly overflowing pot of ideas. And it’s going to add KS2 activities soon (although many existing activities would be suitable for Y3/4 and pupils with SEN). I can hardly wait!

Younger children, and those with SEN, also have access to a fabulous number of accessible and simple activities linked to this topic. HelpKidzLearn (shown above) contains a number of basic, clearly designed (and switch accessible) activities and the bugs section on Poisson Rouge has some nice easy activities that I have used successfully with playgroup age pupils and those with co-ordination difficulties (the activity where pupils click on the yellow bugs to make a picture is great for developing mouse control and encouraging pupils to scan the screen fully). And, when thinking of little ones. let’s not overlook the absolutely jam-packed CBeebies site ( I really like the Tinga Tinga section) as well as the well used (and for good reason) ICT Games (loads of great creature themed activities) and Kent ICT Games . I’ve had pupils using the BeeBot shell designer to create BeeBot shells of almost any creature you could mention (and there’s plenty of other good stuff too). And, before I forget, while we’re talking about the Kent ICT site check out their fantastic child friendly, themed search tools ! Fabulous stuff 🙂

There are also plenty of ‘creature feature’ websites that could be useful in KS2. The ever excellent BBC Science and Nature section is great and I recently saw a group of pupils using the WWF Climate Trackers website to research endangered species quite successfully. To my mind, however, a truly excellent selection of resources and information can be found on ARKive. Stunning images and videos are all part of this fabulous resource and it’s even got an area where pupils can use it in tandem with Google Earth. You might also like to check out the education section as I’m fairly sure you’ll find something of interest there.

So there you have it. A selection of creature themed resources across a number of age groups. If you still cannot find what you need and you’re handy with ICT why not create some resources of your own? Be inventive with triggers in PowerPoint or create some cool multimodals. If you’ve got 2Do it Yourself you could create some activities (Like the one pictured above ) using the wonderful selection of available templates (lots to choose from –  pairs or labelling are useful for creating IWB resources that could be used in big group time). Spending a little time to get a big wow is always time well spent.